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My 2 Days in Seattle

23 Jul

It was a bold strategy… invite 30 of the West Coasts largest social media influencers to your city, put them up in a nice hotel for 2 nights, give them cash, and let set them free. No restrictions, just an all expense paid trip for 3 days and 2 nights in Seattle.

I couldn’t believe it when Klout informed me that I had been chosen for a Klout Perk sponsored by the Seattle Visitors and Convention Center Bureau. The SVCC decided to host some of the most influential people on the West Coast, in hopes of luring nearby people to spend 2 days in Seattle. They have a website dedicated to following the tweets of the selected curators. I was categorized under Music, Arts & Culture, and it was great that @SeattleMaven served as the cyber hostess: serving up points of interest to any of us who checked in or tweeted around Seattle. She even hooked me up with Seattle Mariners tickets!!

Our room at Hotel Andra was spacious as well as gracious,

We were put up at the Hotel Andra … I never would’ve guessed that a boutique hotel could deliver such quality service and quiet rooms. We usually stay at the Hyatt, but I can see us returning to Hotel Andra in the future…it was that lovely. The hotel staff greeted me with 2 VIP tickets to see King Tut at the Science Center, a nice welcome note and an invitation to contact them if I have any questions. We were located perfectly between downtown and Belltown, so we were able to walk or bus anywhere. The weather was typical….socked in with fog in the morning, and lovely in the evenings.

Lola was a great restaurant with a Greek inspired menu.

And the food? I’m so used to Portland being a foodie city that I forget that Seattle also has a wonderful and diverse food scene as well. From chowder at Ivar’s to breakfast at Etta’s and everything in between, we never missed a meal, or a cocktail hour!! Stumbled upon the series of Tom Douglas restaurants, and ate our way through half of them over the weekend.

We were instructed to turn on our location device on our smart phones, and to tweet with the hashtag #2daysinSeattle. It allowed them to track us and also allowed us to see where other influencers were in the city.

But, pictures speak louder than words…. check out my visual tweets here.

So many questions, So little time….

5 Jun

I was just the subject of a college paper my boy’s girlfriend had to write. Nothing like being under a microscope ! I’m posting the questions and my subsequent answers because I’m thinking it may just be a great jumping off point for discussion:

Rose Festival Champ Car Races

1.What are some of the challenges you have faced as a parent?

Being the mother to a special needs child with health issues is by far the most challenging part of being a parent. Knowing just how much leash to give your kids, and how not to swoop and smother them as they find their own way is an ever-present challenge.

2. Have you ever received any type of parenting education?

No. We didn’t even go to lamaze classes 😛 Which is fine, because there is no set of rules when it comes to parenting…only guidelines and case histories. When I first came home from the hospital with my special needs baby, I ran to my bedroom to pick up my dog-eared copy of “What to Expect When You are Expecting” ….. only to find a brief paragraph on what to expect when one gives birth to a special needs child…. the paragraph told me to seek professional help elsewhere…. so much for baby books!

3. How has parenting changed as your children have grown and developed?

Not sure how to answer this one…. parenting perceptions have changed societially (i.e. Tiger Moms vs. Baby Wise, etc….) But I’m not sure how my own personal parenting style has changed. I suppose my role as a parent has evolved from primary care giver, to primary first aid boo-boo kisser to primary philosophy giver, taxi driver, and finally primary loan giver. I look forward to the roles changing up again to friend, babysitter, and finally child to my children…..circle of life.

4. Did you have accurate expectations of what it would be like to have children before you became a parent?

I believe so. I was prepared for the work aspect , but I did underestimate how much joy I would feel as a mom raising fun kids.

5. How do you balance family life with your other interests/jobs?

I gave up a successful career as a performer to raise a family. In order to keep my life in balance, and keep a “hand in” I do an occasional symphony performance or drama or recording gig just to keep my skills in check, and to keep me from feeling like I never get to do what I want to do anymore. I do one big show every other year.

I also run a Social Media marketing boutique out of my home. It allows me to work from home and still go on field trips or make the occasional frantic run up to school with a forgotten assignment or lunch. Best of both worlds!

6. What kind of support do you receive from family, friends, schools or the community as a parent?

Because I live so far away from my family (my parents divorced and I was moved away from the midwest in my teen years) I did not have the usual benefits many of my peers had raising their kids. My in-laws are 40+ years older than my husband, and they were not viable grandparents to help raise our kids. Both of my sets of parents live too far away to fill the typical grandparental roles, so my husband and I had to wing it when it came to baby-sitters and weekends away from the kids. My kids don’t know any different, but I do. I grew up spending every weekend at a different set of grandparents…my grandparents literally fought over who got to watch my brother and I as we grew up.

As the parent to a special needs child, I was amazed at the amount of support the Early Childhood Preparatory programs Oregon had for Caitlin. From the time she was 2 weeks old she was eligible for services, and was regularly visited by nurses who checked in on her, gave her physical therapy and helped me navigate through the public schools.

7. Is there anything you don’t like/don’t enjoy about being a parent?

I tire of the monotony of cleaning… It’s a never ending conundrum. I bore easily with volunteer moms at the school who complain about their husbands. I hate neighborhood gossip. I hate having to play momma bear to my special needs child, as I continually watch parents leave my child out of other reindeer games.

8. Has your philosophy on child-rearing changed as you have had more than one child?

I don’t believe so, but I’m sure it did. I often joke that my bonus child (my step-son from my husband’s first marriage) got the best version of me as a mommy. I was all of 25, just did a year as a theme park princess, and knew all the best ways to engage a young kid. I had patience for days and knew better than to push my luck, as our relationship was more environmental vs. biological. I literally spoiled him into submission, using treats as both motivation and reward. I also had to be ultra careful not to do anything that might be controversial. For example, if he had a nightmare and wanted to crawl in bed with his daddy, I would immediately leave the bed and go sleep on the couch, because the divorce was anything but amicable, and I needed to make sure that nothing could be twisted in a way that would hurt my husband’s time with his son.

My first born, got a more maternal version of me…we co-slept for the first year (much to my in-laws dismay) She was my shadow, and still is, at 14. She never left my sight in a mutual way.


And my youngest got a much more pragmatic version of me. With all of her health issues and brain delays, we navigated the world much differently…. much more cautiously and with purpose.

But….really, I think it is that each child brought something different to the equation, not necessarily that my child-rearing changed….For example….if Kelly as a toddler ever broke free and started running down the street, she would always look back and make sure I was chasing her. Caitlin, on the other hand….NEVER looked back. I was paranoid that Caitlin would go home with a stranger, because she just didn’t know any better.

9.What is your favorite part of being a parent?

There is a sense of accomplishment when I feel we are parenting well. It’s not always the case, but when we are sitting around the table talking over dinner and I see/hear the processes we’ve put in place working, I feel great about always putting my family first.

10. Is there anything you would change in your child-rearing if you had another child?

I’m not sure I would…..I’m sure there is something…..I would try and get help to be better organized, so that I could pass organization on to my children.

11. What are 1 or 2 pieces of advice you would give someone before they become
parents?

Go do everything you want to do in your life….travel, experience, do, be… make sure that when you have kids it is because you can’t imagine life without them, not because you think it’s time to go down that road. Don’t put an age on parenthood. I wanted to be a young mom…. I now wish I’d waited a bit and travelled/experienced more.

12. What has been most rewarding part of being a parent? What do you get out of being a parent?

I have front row seats to the best reality show on earth. With a vested interest in the characters, and a cameo role here and there 🙂

13. Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself from being a parent?

I’ve had to deal with my parent’s shortcomings along the way. I realize now that my parents did their own personal best as parents, even if they hit well short of the mark sometimes. My youngest daughter is so much like myself that I find her especially revealing to me. Also, she is brutally honest with me about my own shortcomings…sometimes comical, and sometimes not so much….

14. How has your relationship with your spouse changed as you both have parented?

He was a parent when I met him. So it’s not really a fair question. I was attracted to my husband because of the father he was to his son. I did my best to step in and compliment his methods, and became an instant parent the moment I committed to being with my husband.

15. Do you want to have more children?

I did. I will always wish I had more. But when Caitlin was born with multiple midline birth defects, I knew it would be unethical to bring another child into the world. A second special needs child might have stretched my parenting resources to the brink, which would not be fair for anyone. I always wanted to get the last one out of diapers before I tried for another one…..still waiting….

Now it’s your turn. Yes, YOU! ….what were your greatest challenges you’ve faced as a parent?

i carry your heart with me….

21 Jun

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)
                                  e.e. cummings

That has been my favorite poem for as long as I can remember. This Father’s Day I found the perfect way to incorporate it into a beautiful and thoughtful gift, thanks to Hide a Heart and MCatherine Lunsford-Bowles.

Think about it: who has time to write flowery love notes these days?( I’m personally lucky if I get a pg-rated sext off to my husband once a day!!) Back in the day, Hubs and I were good about leaving love notes for each other regularly, but 15 years and three kids later, it gets a little more tricky…enter Hide a Heart.

MCatherine Lunsford-Bowles is a successful recording artist and soloist turned entrepreneur. Decades ago, she and her husband came up with the idea of hiding a glass heart from each other as  non-verbal show of affection. Each would take turns hiding their special glass heart from each other. Once found, it was up to the finder to then re-hide the treasure, and the cycle of love has continued for decades for MCatherine and her husband.

Imagine: a way of expression that is not only non-verbal, but also re-usable and recylable? I was so excited when I saw it last weekend, that I snatched one up on the s pot and presented it to my husband on Father’s Day. He absolutely loved it, and he hid it for me immediately! The girls were so excited about the Hide a Heart concept, that I plan to get several for stocking stuffers next Christmas…such a perfect gift for so many occasions.

With so many weddings coming up this summer, I tire purchasing things off a gift registry…I understand the practicality of getting something the couple wants, but it takes all the spontaneity out of it when I am given a list of things I’m suggested to buy. I would MUCH rather send a check with a hide a heart!

And it’s not just for weddings…My friend who is moving away next month? I’ll be sending her off with a Hide a Heart. They would be a great way to incorporate future step children into a wedding ceremony…why not give your future bonus child your heart? She makes lovely purple healing hearts for people battling cancer and other long-term illnesses. Hide a Heart’s are available on her Etsy site, as well as in better boutiques in Oregon. MCatherine also has a fun blog.

You really can’t go wrong with Hide a Heart….enjoy!!